I've had several different posts in mind but haven't gotten around to formulating any of them into real, whole sentences. Hopefully this will be legible. :) Thanks for sticking by me.
I gotta say, God's way always looks different than I think it's going to. I feel like I'm repeating myself, but I'm realizing how idealistic I can be. It is a blessing and a curse. Optimism hopes for the best, but Idealism sort of expects it. There is a picture in my head of how I thing things ought to go. A narrative plays out in my mind - usually following the plot of a sitcom or romantic comedy - well before events actually take place. I rehearse conversations. (I know I'm not the only one) But when the gloves come off, reality can be either really boring, really uncomfortable, or really disappointing.
Hear me out: I'm not saying that I'm perpetually deflated. Uncomfortable is a good thing. It means that I'm in a place of growth. Boring and disappointing are my own fault. I set myself up for those.
God gave me a vision a while back, around 2004. (I think) I'm not usually one prone to visions, but I held this one close to my heart, asking God over time to reveal the meaning to me. I'd explain it in detail, but it'd be meaningless to you. Additionally, Joseph got sold into slavery when he shared his vision, so...
The long and short of it, is that I knew God would be refining me to be in a position to help others. On a grand scale or a small one, I don't know. In what capacity exactly, I'm unsure. But it's been amazing to see it play out over the past 6 or 7 years. Coming home from Mercy, I knew that something dramatic had happened in my life. I feel like I'm closer than ever to seeing that vision fulfilled. Of course, in my idealistic dreams, I am a put-together, spiffy, organized and collected woman of influence. I see myself in a trendy natural fiber tunic sipping overpriced coffee and laughing as I share a witty piece of wisdom with a girl in need. I see my kids lying on their stomachs on the spotless living room carpet reading their assignments while I draft my second book on my laptop. For some reason, I have glasses on my head, even though I don't use reading glasses. There is always a lot of sunlight in my dreams.
That is SO not how life works. Every now and then, I'll get the opportunity to talk to someone who has been reading this blog, face to face. Maybe I don't know them very well, or maybe we've been friends for years, but sometimes they'll tell me how it has helped them or that they enjoyed it. Looking at the face of someone who reads my stuff is really uncomfortable! I put my heart and soul "out there" on this blog. I'm vulnerable, but it's safe because it's relatively anonymous. Somehow my words here belong to a segregated time and space. I'm surprised at how tongue tied I get by face to face comments! But it's so good for me. Not for the ego boost, but because it's actually really, really humbling to know that God is using me to speak His truth. It blesses me so much, no matter how naked I feel.
Something else happened recently that threw me for a loop. While at Mercy, I got the opportunity to meet a woman named Charlotte Gambill. She really made an impact on me, so I introduced myself to her. After seeing her for the second time at a women's conference, she asked me to email her. Four months of procrastination, and I finally did. I'm not sure what made me finally write to her, but God knows. Turns out, she "happened" to be in Nashville visiting the Mercy house there, and she shared my email with Nancy Alcorn (President and Founder of Mercy Ministries). Nancy emailed me a sweet note and asked if she could post my letter on her blog. I agreed, excited to give back to the ministry that had so dramatically changed my life. Within two hours, the new blog post announcement pops up on my twitter feed.
My stomach dropped through the floor. I clicked over to it, and there was my letter (for the most part), spelling out my testimony for Nancy's world to see. She didn't use my last name, of course, but she did post a photo. Reading through the letter, I realized that I had given a lot more detail than I would have usually, because I wrote it for an audience of one. I panicked. Kurt was sitting right beside me, and he was quite soothing and rational. I worked through my fears and audibly gave it over to God.
Driving in the car later, my prayer went something like this:
"Lord, I thought that sharing my testimony would feel different. I thought that bragging about what You did would be fun! Why do I feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin? Ahhh! Jesus! You did this, right? I mean, it's all going to be ok, right?"
I paused for a little while and listened while the Holy Spirit spoke peace and assurance into my heart.
I realized that God knows exactly what I can handle. He is not the type of God to throw me into a role that I am not ready to play. He's giving me these small opportunities to work out my humanity and continue to release control to Him. And it's so much less glamorous than standing behind a glass podium delivering a message of passion and grace. (with glasses on my head, again) It feels so different than I thought it would. But it feels right. And I know that I'm not alone.
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
'As the heaves are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'"
Here's a linkback to Nancy's blog post: "Awesome Update from Recent Graduate!"